Australian Institute of Criminology

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Spam and criminal activity

Trends & issues in crime and criminal justice no. 526

Mamoun Alazab and Roderic Broadhurst
ISSN 1836-2206
Canberra: Australian Institute of Criminology, December 2016

Abstract | The rapid growth of the internet is transforming how we engage and communicate. It also creates new opportunities for fraud and data theft. One way cybercriminals exploit the vulnerabilities of new technologies and potential victims is the use of deceptive emails on a massive scale.

In a sample of more than 13 million emails identified as spam, more than 100,000 contained malicious attachments; nearly 1.4 million contained malicious web links. If opened, these attachments and links could infect the recipients’ devices with software that allows cybercriminals to remotely access them.

This paper describes how crime groups increasingly adopt novel approaches to cybercrime. Increased law enforcement capacity, the cultivation of high-level coordination between industry, government and police, and the further development of machine learning
techniques should be at the forefront of government initiatives in this area.